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Raising the Participation Age (RPA)

What does RPA mean?

From summer 2015, it’s all about young people engaging in education or training until their 18th birthday.

RPA stands for Raising the Participation Age. The Government has raised the age which young people need to continue in education or training. It isn’t about raising the school leaving age and it doesn’t mean young people can’t get a job. It’s all about continuing in learning - and young people have lots of choice about how to do this in the way that suits them best.

So what are the options?

There are 3 main things young people can choose between:

  • continuing to study under the Study Programme - either A Levels or equivalent, or a mixed programme which could include some form or workplace experience
  • starting an apprenticeship
  • full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training.

Why is this happening?

Most 16 or 17 year olds already continue in some form of education or training so RPA is not a big change for them. But all young people should have the chance to develop the skills they need for adult life. Continuing in learning will give them as much chance as possible to get the qualifications, the knowledge and the practical skills they need to help them succeed. This is true whether they are thinking of going into further or higher education, going for an apprenticeship, or looking for a job. There is evidence that getting qualifications at this age can help young people earn more over their whole lifetime - for example young people with two or more A Levels earn around 14% more than those without. Research has also suggested that, over the course of their career, those with an Apprenticeship earn £100,000 more than those without.

What else do I need to know? (Parents/Carers)

The legal requirement to participate - to continue in some form of learning - will be on your son or daughter. The Government want young people to take responsibility for the decisions that affect their own future.

What happens if my child doesn’t participate?

Leaving education early with few or no qualifications can severely limit a young person’s choices later in life. There is a wealth of evidence which shows how staying in education longer can benefit your child. Not only are they more likely to get a job and earn more over their lifetime, they are less likely to suffer from a range of health and social problems as well.

Slough Borough Council Young People’s Service is responsible for checking that young people are participating, and if not, they are offered support to help access a suitable learning or training opportunity. This support is also available to young people who are working or volunteering but not in learning. Support is provided by professional advice and guidance workers to help find the right pathway.

You may be contacted by Slough Borough Council to find out where your son/daughter is participating in education, training or employment with training. This helps us to ensure that young people receive the support they are entitled to, helping them progress into appropriate learning or training.

Is financial support available for my child?

The Government has committed to fully-funding education and training places for all 16-19 year olds, and there is also financial help available for young people who are struggling with additional costs. The 16-19 Bursary Fund can provide up to £1,200 a year to young people. Under the scheme, schools, colleges and training providers can offer bursaries to young people who are finding it difficult to pay costs like transport, meals or books and equipment.

How can I find out more information?

If you are a young person and want more information on how Raising the Participation Age affects you visit Know when you can leave school. For help advice and support on employment, work experience, volunteering and mentoring visit Elevate Me Slough or the National Careers Service.

Slough Borough Council also employs a number of apprentices in administration, community sports and Youth Work. If you would like to find out more about apprenticeship opportunities, please visit the National Apprenticeship website.

What Does This Mean for:


Parents/carers should explore and discuss options, and support young people in making informed decisions about post 16 pathways. Parents can find out more about the options available at the Adviza website.


From 2012 schools are required to provide impartial information, advice and guidance on the options available to young people and raise awareness of RPA particularly to those leaving school at 16. You can find out more about school’s duties by visiting the careers guidance and inspiration in schools document.


There are no duties on employers however you should encourage and support young people to enrol on accredited training.

If you employ a 16 or 17 year old for 20 hours or more a week, for 8 or more weeks consecutively there is a duty on that young person to participate in learning until at least their 18th birthday. The requirement is for the equivalent of 1 day per week, to gain an accredited qualification.

If you employ a young person and would be interested in offering training visit the National Apprenticeship website or the Elevate Me Slough website if you would benefit from advice and support.

Slough for Youth Contact information

For further information relating to Raising the Participation Age please contact Lisa Denham on 01753 87 55 10 or email sloughforyouth@slough.gov.uk.

Find out more about the Local Authority duties relating to participation.